After weeks of abject fear of the prospect of Alex Cora at short, the Red Sox Nation can now rest easy: Alex Gonzalez is now in the fold!
What? That’s not comforting? You’re not reassured by Gonzalez’s career .292 OBP? Worried that Brian Cashman might be sending a physical trainer to Boston, to help keep Gonzalez healthy and in the lineup? Don’t be!
The Red Sox off-season acquisitions around the infield hearken back to the winter before the 2003 season. In case it isn’t clear what J.T. Snow may have in common with David Ortiz, or Mark Loretta may have in common with Kevin Millar, think back to Theo Epstein’s first offseason as the Red Sox GM. That winter, the Sox had gaping holes at first base, second base, and DH, and rather than fill those holes with star players, Epstein went through the bargain bin, looking for cheap and flexible players, and buying in bulk to be that much more certain. Seeing the first base void, Epstein brought in Ortiz, Millar, and Jeremy Giambi, knowing that if all of them were good enough to stick, Millar and Giambi could play the outfield, Ortiz would fit at DH, and if any of them was an out and out bust, they could be discarded without a single tear being shed.
Getting back to 2006, we see an infield where there is ample opportunity to mix and match. You could have the old Marlins’ left side of the infield of Mike Lowell and Gonzalez to go with Loretta and Snow on the right side of the diamond. But if Lowell’s a bust, he’ll lose time to Kevin Youkilis or Tony Graffanino; otherwise, the Greek God of Walks harasses Snow at first. Gonzalez and Loretta can look over their shoulders and still completely miss 5’8” Dustin Pedroia, our #11 prospect. They’d be foolish to overlook Pedroia, despite all the controversy over our ranking of him, since the former Arizona State standout is ready to play in the major leagues right now.
So don’t fret about Snow and Gonzalez, because they are simply two of the many things being thrown at the wall, to see what sticks. It worked out well enough the last time.